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On deductions for the building, repair, and maintenance of public roads

Case No. 28/2000

 

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

RULING

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF THE RESOLUTION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA (NO. 99) “ON THE DEDUCTIONS FOR THE BUILDING, REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE OF PUBLIC AUTOMOBILE ROADS” OF 23 FEBRUARY 1993 WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

3 June 2002
Vilnius

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Armanas Abramavičius, Egidijus Jarašiūnas, Egidijus Kūris, Kęstutis Lapinskas, Zenonas Namavičius, Augustinas Normantas, Jonas Prapiestis, Vytautas Sinkevičius and Stasys Sačiokas

The court reporter—Daiva Pitrėnaitė

Janina Žukauskienė, Director of Law Department of the Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Lithuania, acting as the representative of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, the party concerned

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Article 1 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, on 29 May 2002, in its public hearing, considered case No. 28/2000 subsequent to the petition of the Kaunas City Local Court, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 99) “On the Deductions for the Building, Repair and Maintenance of Public Automobile Roads” of 23 February 1993 was in compliance with Item 15 of Article 67 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

The Kaunas City Local Court, the petitioner, was considering a civil case. The said court suspended the consideration of the case by its ruling and applied to the Constitutional Court requesting an investigation into whether the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 99) “On the Deductions for the Building, Repair and Maintenance of Public Automobile Roads” of 23 February 1993 (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1993, No. 8-182) was in compliance with Item 15 of Article 67 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

II

The petitioner grounds its petition on the following arguments.

According to Paragraph 3 of Article 127 of the Constitution, laws of the Republic of Lithuania establish other budgetary payments and dues. Item 15 of Article 67 of the Constitution establishes that the Seimas establishes state taxes and other obligatory payments. However, the deductions for the building, repair and maintenance of public roads were established by the Government Resolution (No. 99) “On the Deductions for the Building, Repair and Maintenance of Public Automobile Roads” of 23 February 1993, but not by means of a law adopted by the Seimas. Therefore, the petitioner is of the opinion that the Government Resolution (No. 99) “On the Deductions for the Building, Repair and Maintenance of Public Automobile Roads” of 23 February 1993 conflicts with Item 15 of Article 67 of the Constitution.

III

In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court hearing, written explanations were received from the representatives of the party concerned, the Government, who were J. Žukauskienė, Director of the Law Department of the Ministry of Transport and Communications and J. Puluikis, Deputy Director General of the Lithuanian Automobile Roads’ Administration under the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The representatives of the party concerned emphasise that after the independence of the Lithuanian State had been restored, on 8 January 1991 the Government adopted the Resolution (No. 21) “On the Objective Deductions for the Building of Roads” in order to ensure the further financing of building, repair and maintenance of public roads and established certain deductions from enterprises, which had some income from operation of means of transport.

On 17 July 1991, the Government adopted the Resolution (No. 280) “On the Deductions and Dues for the Repair and Maintenance of Public Automobile Roads” which established that “dues collected from the owners of means of transport and incomes of enterprises having the rights of legal and natural persons shall be used to finance the repairing and maintenance of public automobile roads”.

On 8 October 1991, the Seimas adopted the Law on the Principles of the Activities of Transport, Article 6 of which established that for the use of automobile roads legal and natural persons shall pay dues in the amount established by the Government. The representatives of the party concerned maintain that in the course of implementation of the said provisions of the said law, on 8 January 1992 the Government adopted the Resolution (No. 10) “On a Partial Amendment of the 17 July 1991 Resolution (No. 280) of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania”, while, on 23 February 1993, it adopted the Resolution (No. 99) “On the Deductions for the Building, Repair and Maintenance of Public Automobile Roads”.

The representatives of the party concerned also note that the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Road Fund was adopted on 24 January 1995. The Government Resolution (No. 778) “On the Implementation of the Law on Road Fund” of 2 June 1995 annulled the impugned Government Resolution (No. 99) “On the Deductions for the Building, Repair and Maintenance of Public Automobile Roads” of 23 February 1993. Taking into consideration that the impugned legal act is abolished and on the basis of Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the representatives of the party concerned request the dismissal of the initiated legal proceedings.

IV

At the Constitutional Court hearing, the representative of the party concerned, the Government, J. Žukauskienė presented an additional written explanation and an official letter of V. Puodžiukas, Director General of the Lithuanian Automobile Roads’ Administration, which were both added to the case.

At the Constitutional Court hearing, J. Žukauskienė virtually reiterated the statements set down in her written explanations.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

1. On 23 February 1993, the Government adopted the Resolution (No. 99) “On the Deductions for the Building, Repair and Maintenance of Public Automobile Roads”.

The petitioner requests an investigation into whether the Government Resolution (No. 99) “On the Deductions for the Building, Repair and Maintenance of Public Automobile Roads” of 23 February 1993 is in compliance with Item 15 of Article 67 of the Constitution. The petitioner maintains that Item 15 of Article 67 of the Constitution provides that the Seimas establishes state taxes and other obligatory payments. However, the deductions for the building, repair and maintenance of public automobile roads were established by government resolution.

2. On 2 June 1995, the Government adopted the Resolution (No. 788) “On the Implementation of the Law on the Road Fund” which annulled the impugned resolution.

According to Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, the annulment of a legal act shall be grounds to dismiss the initiated legal proceedings. The wording “shall be grounds <...> to dismiss the initiated legal proceedings” should be interpreted as providing for a right of the Constitutional Court, taking into consideration the circumstances of the case, to dismiss the initiated proceedings, however, not establishing that in every case when an impugned legal act had been abolished, the initiated legal proceeding must be dismissed (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 5 April 2000, 4 March 2002, and 10 May 2002).

It needs to be noted that after the Kaunas City Local Court had addressed the Constitutional Court with the petition requesting an investigation into whether the impugned government resolution was in compliance with the Constitution, while if the Constitutional Court did not decide this question in essence, the doubts of the local court as to the compliance of the impugned government resolution would not be eliminated. Without eliminating these doubts, the application of this act in the adjudication of the case at the local court could cause a violation of constitutional rights and freedoms.

II

1. Item 15 of Article 67 of the Constitution prescribes that the Seimas “establishes State taxes and other obligatory payments”.

It needs to be noted that this constitutional provision is inseparable from the provision of Paragraph 3 of Article 127 of the Constitution prescribing that “taxes, other budgetary payments, and dues shall be established by means of laws of the Republic of Lithuania”. Therefore, according to the Constitution, only the Seimas may establish state taxes and other obligatory payments and only by law.

State taxes and other obligatory payments are a monetary obligation of legal subjects to the state. The constitutional requirement to establish state taxes and other obligatory payments only by law is an important guarantee of the protection of individuals’ rights. The law, establishing taxes and other obligatory payments, must determine such essential elements of a tax or other obligatory payment as a payer, object, amounts, exemptions and terms of payments of the tax or other obligatory payment.

The Constitutional Court more than once held in its rulings that if the Constitution directly establishes the powers of a certain public institution, no other institution may take over these powers, while the former institution may not transfer or waive its powers. Such powers may not be changed or limited by law. Therefore, the Seimas may not transfer its constitutional powers to establish state taxes and other obligatory payments to another institution, including the Government. The Government or any other institution may not take over such powers.

2. On 23 February 1993, the Government adopted the Resolution (No. 99) “On the Deductions for the Building, Repair and Maintenance of Public Automobile Roads” which established deductions from received income (to the extent of the turnover) and their amounts. These deductions were allocated for building, repair and maintenance of public automobile roads. The enterprises having rights of legal or natural persons, as well as banks, had to transfer those deductions to special automobile roads accounts. The amounts of deductions from the income received for the realisation of petrol and diesel fuel were also established in the said resolution. The Ministry of Transport and Communications was responsible for the establishment of a calculation procedure of the deductions.

3. It needs to be noted that the impugned government resolution had established a monetary obligation of the state, i.e. deductions for the building, repair and maintenance of public automobile roads. The same resolution also determined the payers, object and amounts of the deductions.

Therefore, “deductions for the building, repair and maintenance of public automobile roads” are obligatory payments in the sense of Item 15 of Article 67 of the Constitution. According to the Constitution, only a law adopted by the Seimas ought to have established such payments and their essential elements.

4. Taking account of the arguments set forth, it should be concluded that the Government Resolution (No. 99) “On the Deductions for the Building, Repair and Maintenance of Public Automobile Roads” of 23 February 1993 was in conflict with Item 15 of Article 67 of the Constitution.

Conforming to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1, 53, 54, 55 and 56 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania gives the following

ruling:

To recognise that the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 99) “On the Deductions for the Building, Repair and Maintenance of Public Automobile Roads” of 23 February 1993 conflicted with Item 15 of Article 67 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

This ruling of the Constitutional Court is final and not subject to appeal.

The ruling is pronounced in the name of the Republic of Lithuania.

Justices of the Constitutional Court:                                                  Armanas Abramavičius

Egidijus Jarašiūnas

Egidijus Kūris

Kęstutis Lapinskas

Zenonas Namavičius

Augustinas Normantas

Jonas Prapiestis

Vytautas Sinkevičius

Stasys Stačiokas